A dozen basketball teams from across DODEA-Europe will get early taste of tournament action this weekend as Brussels, Aviano and Vicenza host four-team divisional meets.

DODEA-Europe schools are sorted into divisions by student population rather than geography. That approach makes for more equitable championship tournaments, but it makes intradivision regular-season games more difficult to schedule. Among the distant rivals are Lakenheath and Naples in Division I, Rota and AFNORTH in Division II and, in a particularly extreme example, Alconbury and Sigonella in Division III.

Gatherings such as three scheduled this weekend are part of an effort to put divisional rivals on the same court before they share a bracket at the European tournament.

Division I squad Vicenza hosts fellow Italian program Naples along with German visitors Stuttgart and Vilseck on Friday and Saturday.

Vicenza and Naples have already met this season, splitting a Friday-Saturday doubleheader on both the boys and girls sides. This weekend offers their first test against an opponent outside of Italy, and it figures to be a formidable one. The undefeated Stuttgart girls are coming off an impressive sweep of reigning European champ Ramstein and looking to cement their status as large-school frontrunners.

Northern Italy also plays host in Division II as Rota, Marymount and American Overseas School of Rome converge at Aviano.

Rota, the defending Division II boys champions, are making their DODEA-Europe season debut with a Thursday night tipoff at Aviano. While the Admirals are projected as the best of the four-team boys group in Aviano, Marymount and star guard Dominic Laffitte could present a lot of problems.

Defending Division III boys champion Brussels is the center of the small-school hoops scene this weekend, meanwhile, welcoming Alconbury, Baumholder and Sigonella.

The Sigonella girls have emerged as Division III frontrunners with a 5-1 start that includes wins over upper-division opponents Vicenza and Aviano.

Twitter: @broomestripes

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